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When trying to conceive most of us are aware of Dr. Weston A. Price’s incredible work and the importance of the right nutrition. This is imperative for proper fetal development and healthy growth of the child as evidenced by his extensive research of Ancestral Cultures following their natural diet.
Another important aspect to planning a pregnancy is getting yourself into decent shape, at an ideal weight and as healthy as possible before conceiving. Losing both the excess pounds and the sedentary lifestyle will make for healthier and happier offspring and a much more pleasant pregnancy experience in general.
Pregnant? How to Exercise Safely
Once you are pregnant is not the ideal time to begin a fitness routine. If you are fit before conception then you will be able to continue to perform your exercise routine with certain modifications throughout the 3 trimesters. Let’s look at each one in detail and some guidelines for modifications.
This will vary greatly from individual to individual; taking into account preconception fitness level, weight, health issues, etc. And of course, you should discuss your plans with your doctor or midwife but make sure you have one that is knowledgeable in this area.
- For most women, it is okay to lie on your back until the 12-16 week mark so sit-ups would be appropriate.
- Most of the exercises you were doing pre-pregnancy you should be able to continue to do; use your normal weights just don’t go up or attempt to set personal records.
- Keep your heart rate at 140 bpm or less; while this may seem restrictive, focus instead on your breathing–you should be able to carry on a conversation while you’re working out.
- This is a time to maintain your fitness – not high-intensity work or all-out efforts.
- Rest as needed between sets and be sure to stay hydrated.
- No more lying on the back; alternate core exercises will need to be implemented.
- Push-ups may be done on the floor, an elevated surface or the wall if necessary.
- Hanging ab exercises will work along with pull-ups. Stop when you can’t or they become uncomfortable. Switch to a band for assistance or a recline pull up if necessary.
- If jumping becomes uncomfortable, switch to a lower box or step-ups would be a good substitution.
- Lower your weights about 25-35% at this time on your other exercises, especially explosive ones.
- Use lighter weights on all squatting exercises and do not go below parallel (because of the relaxin hormone which can encourage injury).
- Row, walk, run and jump rope until they become uncomfortable.
- Decrease your weights as necessary.
- Your growing belly is going to be in the way of a lot of exercises; adjust based on form and comfort.
- Keep doing the exercises that are comfortable and substitute for those that are not.
- Run, row and jump if you can but keep your intensity in check. Be able to converse.
- Continue to stay hydrated.
- Walking and squatting are the best preparation exercises for the impending birth of your baby. Squatting every day and holding it for a minute or two is considered by many to be the very best exercise to prepare for a natural birth.
CrossFit Mom is an excellent site with several suggestions for workouts and tips while you are pregnant. They have beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.
Postpartum Workout Do’s and Don’ts
Begin slowly – no sooner than 6 weeks after the birth of your baby to get back to your normal workouts and listen to your body. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Let your body adjust to not being pregnant. You will also be tired initially caring for a newborn. Give yourself some time but keep moving. You will need the energy to keep up with the baby.
Working out will help you get your body back, you will feel like you are doing something for yourself and it will be good for your mental health. Maintain your clean eating habits and increase caloric intake while nursing. Extra fat, protein, fruits, and vegetables will help keep the calories up.
Don’t be concerned if your body holds on to some extra weight as long as you are nursing. This is normal. Don’t rush to try and lose those last few pounds as it is nature’s insurance policy for your nursing baby.
Do not accept the fact that you will not get your body back after having children. It’s an excuse. If you’ve stayed active throughout your pregnancy and watched what you put in your mouth. . . there’s no reason not to get your body back. It is a very realistic and achievable goal.
On a personal note, I must add that while some of this may seem extreme to someone not involved in a fitness regimen I have trained several women pre, during and post-pregnancy and have been amazed at the results this brings. Many of them had had a child prior to this lifestyle and when comparing the differences that the exercise along with the right nutrition made it was astounding.
The greater ease of labor and delivery, the health and behavior of the child, the reduced frequency of illnesses, allergies, and problems as that child grows through the early years are beyond compare. To me, the answer is crystal clear on what we can do to do the common uncommonly well.
Keeping your heart rate at 140 or lower is out dated and there is no data to support it. Most doctors will say that because doctors before them did. There is no data to support this notion unless it’s a high risk pregnancy or you were not exercising prior to pregnancy. If your doctors tell you this, ask them to prove it with data. I have a Bachelors of Science in Exercise Physiology.
Sadly, I find this article incredibly misleading regarding pregnancy fitness and exercise. There is no mention of diastasis recti or what causes it. It suggests starting a fitness program should not be done after you find out you are pregnant. Any physical activity will be better than none when it comes to one’s pregnancy experience. Physical exercise can actually stave off nausea as well. The suggestion to keep heart rate below 140 bpm is also unnecessary and outdated. Yes, women should consult their healthcare professionals regarding their specific situation, but these recommendations are far from generally applicable. I wish people would start spreading the reality of pregnancy and fitness, so more pregnant women would be able to benefit, enjoying their pregnancy and postpartum period all the more.
I wanted to add another point regarding pregnancy and lying on your back. The majority of women do not have serious issues (discomfort perhaps) lying on their backs. Also, it is easy to tell if you are cutting off blood supply to part of your body, so the recommendations to eliminate back lying are unnecessary as well.
First set you do twenty five reps in the normal crunch position.
Stamina 55-1610 In Motion E1000 Elliptical Trainer.
Ease Of Use – With regular sit-ups you must use the right form or you can
do them without getting any results.
you can heal your diastasis-recti! That is the good news. I have helped women with this condition who have had it for over 30 yrs! Where do you live? The best way to start the process is:
COMPLETELY eliminate all traditional crunches or sit ups, until it is healed. Also, eliminate over stretching the area as well, such as a back bend or stretching backwards over a ball. This condition can occur from either too lax or too tight abdominal region so the goal is to BALANCE the abdominal muscles. You will find great support by strengthening the obliques such as in a side plank. You should do them often.
I highly recommend going to thecenterforwomensfitness.com/about/ and find a trained post pregnancy specialist who can help you heal your diastasis. I also recommend buying Carolyn Anthony’s DVD which you can buy on that website.
It’s very important to heal the problem for your next pregnancy for it can lead to many unfortunate problems other than just back pain. Without balanced and functional abdominals, uterine prolapse, bladder, digestive, and pelvic floor problems can occur.
I also recommend researching womb massage or mayan abdominal massage (same thing) This massage technique can help you before the next pregnancy! Good Luck!
I experienced diastasis recti during my pregnancy with my first daughter. I practiced prenatal pilates faithfully while carrying her. I had no idea what was wrong with my stomach after giving birth to her, and had to a lot of research on my own to figure out what happened. I went on to have my second daughter naturally, but I sill have the muscle separation and bad lower back pain. I wear an abdominal splint to give me some support. I also hate that I have a little pooch belly. Do any of you know what to do to heal an abdominal separation? My husband and I really want to have a third child, and I am concerned about the condition getting worse. I have been to see doctors about it who tell me there is nothing to do about it, and I tried some physical therapy, but they just told me to try to hold my stomach in. Is there anything I can do?
Thanks for this great article. Can you write about preconception fitness? How should we prepare our bodies to carry before even getting pregnant? You mention it briefly but it would be great to see an in-depth article about preconception fitness.
I *never* got my body back after my first pregnancy. I am going to really try hard after this baby (35 weeks now!) to do better. I think it was all the factors – breastfeeding twins round the clock, healing from surgery, etc – yeah, my cesarean was actually necessary. Anyway all of the factors made it very tough. I was in good shape before my pregnancy though so I was able to carry my twins to almost 42 weeks and they were super healthy. I totally believe most women can get their bodies back, though. My biggest concern is just extra skin, not extra fat. I stretched out so much with the twins! I eat a really healthy diet – bone broth, FCLO, most grains we eat are sprouted, and we get our fresh produce. Can exercise actually help with the extra skin thing, or is that just a matter of time?
As my baby goes with me for my exericise I’m taking 1 yr to get back at it. wont run till I’m sure beyond sure that it is safe for her head for me to burst train again. My marker is if she can run around herself then i can burst train with her in jogging stroller even on back trails at the park.till then I walk.
The 140bpm’s limit is a pet peeve of mine. That recommendation from ACOG was reversed in 1994!! Better to use a perceived scale of exertion. – good explanation) I ran though both of my pregnancies, weight lifted, did boot camp class etc… Both my children are incredibly healthy and I recovered very easily. I was back to jogging at 3 & 4w post-partum (slow jogging but I couldn’t sit still any longer!) Every woman needs to do what is right for her given her level of fitness and how her body is handling pregnancy.
With my first baby, I ran and lifted weights. I ran up to about 7 1/2 months and then used the elliptical machine until a couple of days before I gave birth. I lifted the whole time. With my second, I lifted and swam the whole time up until the day I gave birth. I really helped me feel good and helped morning sickness as well.
With my first baby, the gym I worked out had a guy who nearly daily told me how much I was traumatizing–psychologically, physically, and emotionally–and destroying my baby. He was such an ignorant jerk (sorry for the language). Even after birth I ran into him and he still had nothing nice to say…